Thursday, October 17, 2013

NFL Week 7 Primer - Joe's Last NFL Picks As A Bachelor

By Jeremy Conlin (@jeremy_conlin) and Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

By the time Week 7 has completed, trusty editor Joe Parello will be married. I won't hold that against him. Thankfully, he has chosen to hold his wedding on Saturday evening, presumably not to interfere with NFL viewing on Sunday afternoon. Well played, Joe.

Joe, a lifelong Steelers fan, picked a good year to get married. We're only six weeks into the season and the Steelers have already been reduced to irrelevance. Most years, a Steelers-Ravens showdown in the middle of the season puts one team on the inside track to winning the AFC North. This year, it doesn't even guarantee a share of first place, and either team even making the playoffs seems a bit far-fetched at this point in the season. So if the post-wedding chaos forces Joe to miss part of his beloved Steelers' game on Sunday, he can rest assured knowing that his favorite team's suckitude is not in question.

And, as luck would have it, Joe picked a great weekend to get married. What were previously thought to be marquee matchups when the schedule was released earlier this year turn out to be, well, not. Atlanta and Tampa Bay have combined to win one game. The Redskins' skid has continued, rendering their game against Chicago almost meaningless. Kansas City and Houston have flipped roles - Kansas City seems like an elite team while Houston is falling apart. The only matchup of two winning teams on Sunday afternoon is Cincinnati and Detroit - certainly an intriguing game, but nothing like last week's New Orleans-New England matchup, or the Chicago-Green Bay showdown on Monday Night in two weeks. The majority of the slate Sunday afternoon is ultimately forgettable.

But that's not stopping us from making picks.

Game(s) of The Week:

Cincinnati @ Detroit (1 p.m. Sunday, CBS)

As noted above, it's the only matchup of two winning teams among the Sunday afternoon games. But more than that, it should produce a cool showdown between Calvin Johnson and A.J. Green, provided Johnson is healthy (he has been in practice this week, which is promising). Detroit is at home, where their offense seems to move at warp speed, but the speed on turf should also accelerate Cincinnati's dominant pass rush.

Dallas @ Philadelphia (1 p.m. Sunday, FOX)

The winner of this game will propel themselves into first place in the NFC East at 4-3, and given how miserable the NFC East is, four wins very well may be halfway to a division championship. Both teams are banged up, with Michael Vick not expected to play for Philadelphia, and DeMarco Murray and DeMarcus Ware both ruled out for Dallas.

Cleveland @ Green Bay (4:25 p.m. Sunday, CBS)

This could produce an interesting matchup of Cleveland's underrated defense versus a supremely fatigued Green Bay offense. Randall Cobb is out indefinitely, and James Jones looks to be a game-time decision, leaving the Packers to scrape the bottom of the barrel at wide receiver.

Baltimore @ Pittsburgh (4:25 p.m. Sunday, CBS)

Joe's getting married so I put his team's game here for posterity. 

Denver @ Indianapolis (8:30 p.m. Sunday, NBC)

Unquestionably the best matchup of the weekend, featuring Peyton Manning's return to Indianapolis. The Colts have surprised some (read: me) this season, and it will be interesting to see how Peyton Manning holds up on the receiving end of Indianapolis' crowd noise for once. 

Here Are The Pick(s) We Agree On (Home Teams in CAPS):

Seattle (-6.5) over ARIZONA

JC: I've completely given up trying to pick the Thursday night games. I literally flipped a coin here.

JP: I have lost all faith in the Cardinals and their "Carson Palmer isn't quite as bad as you think" experiment.

San Diego (-8.5) over JACKSONVILLE

JC: After holding the Colts to just three field goals on Monday night, San Diego might be able to build something going forward on defense. And after pulling out all their trick-play stops last week against Denver, the holster might be empty for the Jaguars.
JP: We may have overhyped the epic blow out-ness of last week's Jags-Broncos game, but I still don't trust Jacksonville unless I'm getting at least 10 points.

Cincinnati (+3) over DETROIT

JC: I trust Cincinnati's defense to defend on turf better than I trust Detroit's offense to survive with a gimpy Calvin Johnson

JP: I have no idea what to make of the Lions this year, but when the Bengals are on, they can beat anybody. Plus, they're getting points.

Buffalo (+8) over MIAMI

JC: On one hand, I consider the likelihood of Thad Lewis putting together two straight games like the one he had last week against the Bengals effectively zero. On the other, Miami really hasn't shown any capacity to protect their quarterback or run the ball, which could be problematic against Buffalo's defense. Cameron Wake is still questionable, and the last few weeks have shown pretty well that Miami's defense is dependent on him generating pressure on the quarterback.

JP: Yeah,  the Phins win this one, but I'm thinking they take it by exactly a touchdown.

Chicago (+1) over WASHINGTON

JC: What exactly has Washington shown this season that merits them being favored over a good team? How exactly are they going to cover Brandon Marshall?

JP: Are we sure this line is correct? Yeah, gimme the good team and the point over the crappy team.

CAROLINA (-6.5) over St. Louis

JC: St. Louis is an enigma. Somehow they beat Houston by 25 last week despite being out-gained by over 200 yards. They have two blowout wins over Houston and Jacksonville and two blowout losses to San Francisco and Dallas. Now that Carolina is actually playing aggressive offense, they seem closer to the San Francisco/Dallas end of the spectrum than the Houston/Jacksonville end.

JP: I don't trust the Rams at all. That big win over Houston was about the implosion of the Texans, much like Carolina's annihilation of the Giants was about New York falling apart. That being said, the Panthers seem to be clicking right now, and Cam isn't turning the ball over. I'll take that at home against Sam Bradford. 

Tampa Bay (+7.5) over ATLANTA

JC: As terrible as Tampa Bay has been, Atlanta shouldn't be giving over a touchdown with a crappy defense, no Julio Jones, no Steven Jackson, and possibly no Roddy White. The half-point is scaring me off.

JP: Man, what a train wreck of under achievement and injury this Atlanta season has been. I had this team winning the freaking Super Bowl!

San Francisco (-5) over TENNESSEE

JC: Tennessee getting two touchdowns against Seattle last week was a farce (and they showed it by covering comfortably). This seems more reasonable. The 49ers seem to be kicking back into high gear after their two embarrassing losses to Seattle and Indianapolis in Weeks 2 and 3. They've won three straight games by double digits (including one on the road in St. Louis), so giving less than a touchdown to a team starting Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback seems like a safe bet.

JP: You had me at "a team starting Ryan Fitzpatrick."

KANSAS CITY (-7) over Houston

JC: I'm not going near Houston with a 10-foot pole. The vanilla, predictable offense they've been running for the last few weeks (partly out of necessity with a shell-shocked Matt Schaub) should play right into the hands of the Chiefs' dominant defense.

JP: Who saw the floor falling out in Houston so abruptly? Matt Schaub seemed to win the award for "most unobjectionable QB" every year, and now his hometown fans are cheering his injuries like a tiger just decapitated a gladiator in the Coliseum. Is this the end of their incredibly boring, only memorable because Arian Foster was a great fantasy back, run? I think so.

Cleveland (+10) over GREEN BAY

JC: No Randall Cobb. (Probably) no James Jones. That means Jordy Nelson will square off with Joe Haden and Green Bay's other receiving options will be [insert practice squad signing here]. Cleveland's defense should keep the game close.

JP: Green Bay isn't the dominant force I thought they'd be, and Cleveland is actually surprisingly salty. The Packers will still win, but 10 points seems like a lot to ask.

PITTSBURGH (-1) over Baltimore

JC: I want to do something nice for Joe so I'll pick his team for once. Granted, I probably would anyway because Baltimore looks like a train wreck right now.

JP: Aw, thanks man. I was going to pick the Ravens, but then I took a look at that picture at the top of Caity and I at the AFC Championship Game a few years back, and decided I had to roll with my Steelers. I'm really counting on a little momentum carrying over from their win against the Jets, and a tidal wave of desperation to give them a field goal win.

Minnesota (+3.5) over JAGUARS NORTH

JC: Similar to the Redskins, what exactly has Jaguars North done to make people think they should be favored over ANYONE? Even at home against a 1-4 team who is starting a quarterback they signed two weeks ago who was waived by a team that's 0-5? Okay, now that I read that back it seems reasonable. But I'm still taking Minnesota.

JP: This looks like one where the Giants (Like the Steelers against Minnesota a few weeks back) rally late, but ultimately snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Vikings by 4.

Here Are The Pick(s) We Don't (Home Teams Still in CAPS):

JC: NEW YORK JETS (+4.5) over New England

Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo are out for the season. Aqib Talib has been limited in practice. Danny Amendola is out with a concussion. Rob Gronkowski is probably going to retire for all we know. New England is way too banged up to be giving four and a half on the road against a team that already played them close once this season and has a legitimately good defense.

JP: New England (-4.5) over NEW YORK JETS

The Patriots are just starting to figure things out offensively, but they still look like they're going to be up-and-down due to youth at receiver. Still, I'll take youth at receiver with Tom Brady at QB over youth at QB with Stephen Hill at receiver.

JC: PHILADELPHIA (-2.5) over Dallas

Well, my strategy of just taking the points in crappy, no-defense NFC East games didn't work (Dallas covered easily over Washington last week), so I'll try just taking the home team.

JP: Dallas (+2.5) over PHILADELPHIA


JC: INDIANAPOLIS (+7) over Denver

Denver's defense has looked pretty porous over the last two weeks. When Jacksonville can put up 19 points on the road, I'm pretty sure Andrew Luck at home can double that.

JP: Denver (-7) over Indianapolis

Peyton Manning throws for 11 TDs in a 77-14 beat down of the Colts and youngster Andrew Luck. He then urinates on Jim Irsay at midfield, after discussing his record-setting day with NBC's Michele Tafoya. Back in the booth, Bob Costas opines on the implications of urination on Field Turf.

Three Team Tease(s) of The Week:

JC: San Diego (to +1.5), New England (to +5.5), Chicago (to +11)
JP: Too busy getting married

Jeremy's Record:
Last Week: 6-9
Season: 39-48-5
Last Week's Disagreements: 3-3
Season's Disagreements: 14-12-1
Teases: 3-3

Joe's Record:
Last Week: 6-9
Season: 37-50-5
Last Week's Disagreements: 3-3
Season's Disagreements: 12-14-1
Teases: 0-6

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